Four Edmonton post-secondaries have announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate with proof of vaccination required for staff, students, and visitors, saying a negative rapid test will no longer be accepted as an alternative.
In a joint statement Monday, the University of Alberta, MacEwan University, NorQuest College, and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), said vaccinations have proven to be a critical part of campus safety plans.
As such, campus community members and visitors will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend campus and they will be required to provide proof of vaccination.
“Rapid testing will no longer be accepted as an alternative to vaccination, except for campus community members who cannot be vaccinated based on medical or other protected grounds outlined in the Alberta Human Rights Act,” the joint statement reads.
“These individuals should follow the self-declaration exemption procedures already in place at their post-secondary institution and will be reasonably accommodated.”
For the University of Alberta, the new protocols will go into effect on Nov. 1.
“This means that students, faculty and staff will need to receive their second dose two weeks before Nov. 1, and will need to provide proof of vaccination,” U of A President Bill Flanagan said in a statement.
Individuals will be able to provide proof of vaccination using electronic or paper records.
“We are taking an approach to health and safety that is best suited for the learning, studying, researching, working, and living environments of our campuses,” Flanagan said.
“The safety of our large, diverse community has been our top consideration when making both short-term and long-term plans throughout the pandemic.”
NorQuest will also implement the protocols beginning Nov. 1. In the interim, starting Sept. 20, anyone coming to campus will be required to declare their vaccination status. Those who are not fully vaccinated or choose not to disclose will be required to undergo regular rapid COVID-19 tests. Rapid testing will continue until Oct. 31, and then it will no longer be used as an alternative to full vaccination.
MacEwan, however, will require staff, faculty and visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning in the winter 2022 term.
“At MacEwan, we are committed to taking an approach that puts safety first, aligns with our student focus and meets the unique needs of our university community,” said President Annette Trimbee in a statement.
“The decision to implement mandatory vaccination has not been made lightly. We are providing as much advance notice as possible to allow individuals to prepare and make informed choices.”
NAIT is working to finalize implementation dates and details for the vaccine mandate and proof of vaccination requirement for the fall term. The institution plans to share more information in the coming days.
The four post-secondaries announced the adjustment to their COVID-19 safety protocol along with the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the University of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat College.
Meanwhile, at King’s University a mask mandate in all classrooms and public spaces, except when eating, drinking, exercising, and playing sports, was implemented on Sept. 1. The university is not currently requiring proof of vaccination.
The Concordia University of Edmonton also has an indoor mask mandate and currently, vaccines are only mandatory for students wishing to live in residence, participate in athletics, or participate in non-academic performances.
Spokeswoman Bridget Burgess said the university is deeply concerned about the rising cases of COVID-19. The institution is currently revisiting their approach and protocols and will have more to share in the future.